Breaking down the latest ESPN 300
Changes at the top, impressive debuts and a few who've seen their stock drop
- Since the initial release of the 2014 ESPN 300, the top three prospects in this defensive line class have been clear: DE Da'Shawn Hand (Woodbridge, Va./Woodbridge), DE Myles Garrett (Arlington, Texas/James Martin) and DT Andrew Brown (Chesapeake, Va./Oscar Frommel). What hasn't been as clear is how those three compare to each other. In the latest ESPN 300 ranking, all three remain in the top 10, but the order has shifted and the gap between the three has tightened. Brown, a Virginia commit, took the lead for the trio and moved into the No. 4 overall position in the rankings. An explosive big man, Brown has shown this season his ability to be a disruptive force. Possessing a very good combination of size and first-step quickness, he can penetrate and blow up plays, as well as draw attention and defeat the double-team. It's not easy to find DTs with impact ability, but Brown has that type of presence on the field.[+] EnlargeSteve Dykes/USA TODAY SportsVirginia commit Andrew Brown has continued his climb up the rankings.
Garrett, who recently committed to Texas A&M, made the jump up to No. 5 from No. 7, splitting Brown and Hand for the first time. The top player in Texas, he boasts a wonderful combination of size, initial quickness and athleticism; he has the tools to be a difference-maker on the defensive side of the ball. Hand follows Garrett at No. 6; he is a promising defender with very nice size, strength and athleticism and could offer good versatility at the next level. Hand, who will likely choose between Alabama, Florida and Michigan, possesses the ability to impact a game like Brown and Garrett, but of these three, he might need more development at the next level.
The bottom line: All three of these players are excellent defensive line prospects and this order could still shuffle again before the final update. All three will be competing in the Under Armour All-American Game, which will give us the chance to evaluate them side-by-side.
Here is an in-depth look at other notable players who improved their position or saw their stock drop in the latest ESPN 300 ranking:
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